Work, worries, misfortunes, achievements, dreams of success and distractions of every kind often completely absorb our attention, immersing us in a vicious and constant dissipation…
Yet Scripture says: “Non in commotione Dominus” (1 Kgs 19:11), the Lord is not in agitation. Caught up in the turmoil of earthly concerns, we end up distancing ourselves from God, forgetting that we are on this earth for no other reason than to know Him, serve Him and love Him.
Our soul is sacred ground, in which the Most High sows His grace (cf. Mt 13:18-23), but its fruitfulness or barrenness depends on our care. And this care does not require that we neglect our daily duties, but that we learn to lift up our hearts in the midst of them.
More precious than a gift from the Child Jesus
It is typical of our “industrialized” minds to imagine that God has an arsenal of already-created graces, organized and stored by “categories”, ready to be poured out upon us in accordance with certain predetermined needs, such as, for example, an illness or the loss of a loved one…
However, good Catholic theology teaches us that God creates specific and unique graces for each person and each circumstance. They are gifts that are made to measure, so to speak – personalized for each one of us. If the Divine Child Jesus, in St. Joseph’s workshop, were to craft some wooden object and present it to us, it would not be a gift as precious as He would give by granting us one grace!
The cultivation of the graces we have received is therefore central to our spiritual life. If we respond with love to these divine caresses we will soon conform ourselves to God and be sanctified, whereas by paying them no heed, we will end up becoming practical atheists, on the road to perdition.
We need to transcend from material to supernatural realities, so as to give grace the opportunity to act in us
“Vision of Denys Ryckel”, by Vincenzo Carducci – Prado Museum, Madrid
Elevation of spirit and transcendence
Taking good care of the treasure of divine grace, and above all keeping the soul always open to receive it calls for a certain predisposition on our part. For the Lord does not cast pearls before swine (cf. Mt 7:6), and He seldom communicates with those who do not value the supernatural life.
Furthermore, the voice of grace does not violate human free will; it does not shout, but whispers in the depths of souls. Those who are listening to the noise of the world are unable to hear it and therefore cannot obey it.
To be prepared to respond to this heavenly gift means keeping our spirit recollected, not only during times of prayer or meditation, but also during our work, in which we often spend most of our time. It is not right that we should devote only a part of our attention to the Lord; He has a right to the whole of our existence! Without failing to give “to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” we must give “to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:21).
How can we do this? By transcending our understanding of material things to supernatural realities. Practical tasks, provided they are not contrary to morals and are done with the right frame of mind, can always serve as a pretext for thinking about higher realities and thus give grace the opportunity to transform us. Just as everything is evil for those whose mind is corrupted (cf. Ti 1:15), for those who truly love God, everything has some relationship with Him.
The greatest example in history
So great was the love of the Blessed Virgin that everything around Her, during any occupation, was an occasion to remember her Lord
The Holy Family” – Museum of Mercy, Porto (Portugal)
Over two thousand years ago, the Mother of the Creator, the Seat of Wisdom, the Mirror of all divine perfections, the Blessed Virgin Mary, gave us a most precious example of this kind of recollection.
As a sound tradition tells us, from her earliest childhood, She who was to be the Tabernacle of God among men devoted herself to serving in the Temple. There She performed various duties, such as cleaning the sacred precincts, sewing and embroidering the vestments and linens destined for worship, and caring for liturgical objects.
But far from being distracted by these tasks, Mary thought of God and of the coming Messiah while She carried them out. So great was her love that everything around Her was an occasion to remember her Lord, to make a supplication to Him or even to console Him by offering some sacrifice, however small. Whether She was reading passages from the Holy Scriptures, discerning the action of grace in a soul, or even admiring a flower and contemplating the flight of a bird, her soul was always in divine company.
Later, when it was her role to surround the Divine Infant with tender care, and therefore to occupy herself with the utmost zeal in domestic affairs, She did not give herself up to agitation. Scripture says: “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19), for her principal concern was to serve Jesus with her ardent love.
By conserving this state of soul, Our Lady offered God the possibility of performing wonders in Her, of revealing ineffable mysteries to Her, and of communicating the torrents of His grace to Her at every moment. In this school of daily life together, Mary attained the fullness of union with the Creator to the point of becoming His very presence among men.
Heavenly joy experienced on earth
It may seem very difficult, at first sight, for a someone in the twenty-first century to do as Our Lady did, but this is not so. The path She trod is simple and accessible to all those who willingly commend themselves to her maternal intercession and are prepared to travel on the wings of sublimity. Moreover, it is God himself who most desires and constantly seeks to make contact with us! It will be enough for us to take care not to close our hearts, and to be attentive to the invitations that He makes to us every day.
If we but make this simple effort, we will begin to experience within ourselves the greatest happiness that can be attained on this earth: “soul to soul” contact with God – a joy that only His infinite love and this closeness to Him can give us.
Let us therefore beseech the Immaculate Heart of Mary to grant us the light and strength to follow in her footsteps and become worthy recipients of divine grace. ◊